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HER Number:MDV8218
Name:Farmhouse at Swete Sigford, Ilsington


Sweet Sigford at Higher Sigford in Ilsington was built in the late Medieval period and remodelled in the 17th century and abandoned in the 19th century


Grid Reference:SX 781 745
Map Sheet:SX77SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishIlsington
Ecclesiastical ParishASHBURTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SE/39
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 488305

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (Built, XIV to XIX - 1400 AD to 1880 AD (Between))

Full description

1840, Tithe Map (Cartographic). SDV339770.

Farmhouse depicted on the Tithe Map (1145) with surrounding farm buildings and fields set to pasture and Sweets Orchard (1146).

Mercer, E., 1975, English Vernacular Houses (Monograph). SDV336308.

Old Higher Sigford House. Built of random rubble in late 16th century. Two cells, two storeys with cellar at one end. Entrance on south into wide cross-passage with no rear doorway behind main stack to east plank-and-muntin partition with wide shouldered door between passage and west room, and floor and ceiling of all this part are at a lower level than in main room. Therefore, possibly, the west room was byre, but with large window with splayed jambs in south wall, stop-chamfering on west side of beam, and cellar below with continuous quoining in southwest angle showing it to be contemporary, this room always had domestic purpose. Walling at this end rebuilt. Stairs by stack in main room. First floor: door with chamfered triangular head leads to west room. Small window in east gable has chamfered triangular-headed lights with wooden mullions. At west end of house. Later byre entered at same level as cellar. Possibly rebuild of earlier byre which, because of the slope of the ground, must have been entered separately from house.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX77SE 20 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV306657.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001, 1781/0/10004 (Correspondence). SDV237542.

Now abandoned farm building. Late medieval; remodelled mid-late 16th & later 17th centuries; shippon early 19th century. Local limestone rubble & dressed granite. Very rare example of a medieval 2-room and through-passage plan house with an open hall and a 3-storey service end. Listed Grade II*.

Thorp, J. R. L., 2002, Swete Sigford, Ilsington, 1-25 (Report - Assessment). SDV347572.

Medieval farmhouse with a two-room and cross passage plan constructed on an unusually steep south-facing slope; the north end deeply terraced into the hillslope and the south end is built over a basement. Documentary records for the hamlet of Sigford exist from at least 1066 and Swete Sigford is certainly older than the adjacent Higher Sigford, the fabric of which dates to the 1680s. If Swete Sigford is the oldest property in the hamlet then it is likely that the early documentary references concern this property. Detailed history of owners/occupiers provided.
The farmhouse is constructed from local limestone rubble with moorstone granite. The medieval masonry is distinguished by its neat finish and represents high quality vernacular stone-laying. The first phase of building at the site is a late medieval (approximately 1440-1540) open hall house with the hall at the northern end. The southern end of the house was extended one bay further; floored with a low basement, with ground and larger than usual first floor room above. This represents an unusual layout which is probably unique in Devon and may be unique in the westcountry, due to the constraints of the house’s location. The roof form (A-frame truss) is unusual also in a rural context; it is more common to see cruck trusses used in rural houses. To the south of the cross passage is a stud-and-panel timber screen which survives in a surprisingly complete form.
In the mid or late 16th century the open hearth fire in the hall was abandoned and replaced by a large fireplace in an axial chimney stack backing onto the cross passage. At the same time the hall was re-floored with neat granite flagstones.
In the mid 17th century the house underwent major refurbishment and reorganisation. The hall was floored over, creating a new first floor chamber, also creating a new stair from the hall to both first floor chambers. The rear west wall was completely rebuilt as far as the medieval passage screen, removing the passage rear doorway. The south end of the house was truncated and the new wall included a chimney stack serving the first floor chamber.
There is little evidence of later changes to the house, apart from new roof trusses which were probably introduced when the roof cover was changed from thatch to corrugated iron. The 19th century census returns suggest the place was abandoned as a house in the 1870s.

English Heritage, 2006, Buildings at Risk: The Register 2006, 69 (Report - non-specific). SDV336311.

Sweet's Sigford at Higher Sigford was on the Buildings at Risk Register in 2006 as it was slowly decaying. A solution had been agreed but had not been implemented.

English Heritage, 2006, Ilsington (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV336310.

Sweet Sigford at Higher Sigford in Ilsington. House; now abandoned farm building. Circa late Medieval; remodelled circa mid-late 16th century and later 17th century; shippon circa early 19th century. Local limestone rubble and dressed granite. Gable-ended roofs clad in corrugated-iron sheets. Stacks truncated below roofs. Plan: 2-room and cross/through-passage late Medieval house with hall on right [northeast] open to roof and heated from an open hearth fire and service room on left [southwest] with chamber above and over passage, and with cellar below. In about the mid-late 16th century an axial stack was built at the lower end of the hall backing onto the cross/through-passage, while the hall remained open to the roof. Circa late 17th century a floor was inserted into the hall creating a chamber above and winder stairs were built beside the stack to the hall and low end chambers. The storeyed low end was probably truncated at this time and in about the early in the 19the century the shippon was rebuilt with a loft above. The house was abandoned in the 19th century and has been used as a farm building.
Exterior: 2 storeys. Southeast front: House to right has tall hall window and very small stair window to right, cross-passage at centre with dressed granite jambs and lower end on left with large ground and first floor openings and smaller cellar opening below, all without frames. Shippon set back slightly on lower ground level to left with tall doorway on right and two small ground floor window openings on left. Gable end of shippon without openings. High north east gable end of house has small first floor window with possibly re-used medieval wooden 3-light frame with triangular headed lights, the mullions missings. At rear [northwest] the shippon at lower level on right is set back slightly and has no openings; house on left has small window below eaves on right with straight joint in masonry below possibly jamb of passage rear doorway.
Interior: Cross-passage has plank-and-muntin screen on low side with chamfered shouldered arch doorway and rebated doorway to right and exposed unchamfered joists. Axial stack has granite ashlar back onto passage with chamfered plinth and cornice and large hall fireplace with monolithic chamfered granite jambs on both sides and large slightly cambered chamfered timber bressumer; chamfered plinth at back of fireplace and granite domed oven under newel stairs to left which rise to hall and lower end chambers with chamfered timber door-frames with cranked heads and mason's mitres. Hall has deeply chamfered cross-beams with hollow step stops and bead arris mouldings to joists. Granite flag stone hall floor. Tall hall front window with splayed reveals. Chamber over low end has fireplace on low side, its stack corbelled out into shippon and with granite jambs and chamfered timber bressumer with hollow step stops; splayed window openings at front and rear. Roof over hall has truss with some smoke-blackening, yoke at apex and mortices for collar and mortices and trenches for purlins and trenched diagonal ridgepiece. Circa 18th century roof over low end with three trusses with collars lapped and pegged to principals and one re-used principal with redundant mortice for collar. Cellar at low end has remains of plaster, unchamfered joists, probably re-used Medieval small 3-light chamfered timber window, and doorway on low side wall and blocked opening in rear wall by rear left corner. Shippon has floor beams, but loft floor removed; 20th century shippon roof structure. Sweet's Sigford is a very rare example of a Medieval 2-room and through-passage plan house with an open hall and a 3-storey service end. Source: Thorp, J.R.L., Keystone Report K654, March 2002. Other details: LBS No 488305.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2011, 0089/11 (Planning Application). SDV347827.

A current application to convert the property to residential use was refused.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV237542Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. 1781/0/10004. A4 Stapled.
SDV306657Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX77SE 20. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV336308Monograph: Mercer, E.. 1975. English Vernacular Houses. English Vernacular Houses. Unknown.
SDV336310List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2006. Ilsington. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV336311Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2006. Buildings at Risk: The Register 2006. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound. 69.
SDV339770Cartographic: 1840. Tithe Map. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108220 ]
SDV347572Report - Assessment: Thorp, J. R. L.. 2002. Swete Sigford, Ilsington. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K654. A4 Comb Bound. 1-25.
SDV347827Planning Application: Dartmoor National Park Authority. 2011. 0089/11. Dartmoor National Park Planning Authority. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV72675Related to: Farmhouse at Higher Sigford, Ilsington (Building)
MDV72674Related to: Ilsington, Sweet's Sigford, Barn (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5170 - Assessment of Swete Sigford farmhouse

Date Last Edited:May 8 2018 4:41PM